Instructables
The armature is a fundamental part of the sculpture. In very basic terms it is the skeleton or support structure that will hold your clay as you sculpt the figure. It is important not to take short cuts or work hastily without proper planning, as this will result in much unnecessary frustration later on.

For beginners an armature can seem complicated and overwhelming not knowing where to begin. This is a simple system that works quite well and can make an armature in a relatively short amount of time (usually 30 minutes for a 12" armature!)

There are some clays out there that are self-supporting and therefore do not require they use of a support armature. These materials are clay/wax hybrids that are light in weight and fairly rigid when cool like Castilene, which will be covered in another segment.
 
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Step 1: PROPORTIONS

Once you have established your scale you will need to establish what proportions to use. This will depend in large part with the type of character you will be sculpting; for example a male super hero will have different proportions when compared to an average adult male. In a similar fashion a male super hero will differ in proportion to a female super hero as female characters tend to look better with longer legs and shorter torsos then their male counterparts.

Also a child will be quite different in proportion to an adult& so on and so forth. Proportion can make a figure more or less heroic according to how many heads tall he/she is. For our purposes proportions are measured by using the head as the unit of measurement. From this unit we can find the measurements for the rest of the body. The average human being is 7 1/2 heads tall meaning that if you were to divide the person using the measurement of their head you would find that it would fit 7 1/2 times their body in height. From this there are other measurements that we can find but for the time being this is really the most important aspect you need to understand.

For sculpting you will find that 7 1/2 heads tall, although correct, can make a figure reduced to scale look a little dumpy. This is simply an illusion caused by the fact that you are sculpting something at a reduced scale from the real thing. This is especially true for female figures. In fact you can extend the legs on female figures a little to make sure they look graceful and elegant. In the end though proportion comes down to personal tastes so once you learn how proportion works you can then modify it to achieve the results that most appeal to you.
melliott115 months ago

Getting a glimpse of this process is fascinating, thank you.

was the Apoxie Sculpt the only clay that you used? Would polymer clay work?
woodNfish1 year ago
Many figure drawing books have proportion charts and you could probably photocopy one from a library book if you wanted, but the proportions shown in the drawing for this instructable are not realistic. The legs are at least 1/3 too long, but just right for teenage boys who read comics.
locoxellas5 years ago
could you give me a link where i could download the THE PROPORTION CHART of a woman so i could print it in scale? thanks in advance!!!
I'd like a copy of the Proportion Chart, too!
This one is an obvious alternative. upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/22/Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour.jpg

All though I believe that the one he's using is from this book:  www.amazon.com/Figure-Drawing-All-Its-Worth/dp/B00005VWK3
amayer5 years ago
Can you clarify what gauge wire you are using as the "1/8th aluminum armature wire" and the gauge for the "1/16th aluminum armature wire"? Also is there a downside to using another type of non-rusting metal wire for the armature ie. brass or copper?
mnpazan amayer4 years ago
I'm not the author, but I'll take a stab at this-

I'd say don't worry too much about exact gauges. If you can find something that eyeballs at a similar thickness, it'll work just as well.

In my experiece, copper and brass wires have a springyness that makes them less ideal. When pressure is applied to the clay with a tool, a copper or brass armature tends to give and then spring back instead of holding stiffly in position, making sculpting more difficult. Brass is stronger than copper or aluminum, but in armature terms that just means it will flex further than copper before bending.

Aluminum by contrast has almost no "spring", though the trade off is it does actually bend easier (i.e. where copper would flex before bending, aluminum just bends right away), so you sometimes have to use a slightly thicker gauge than you might with copper or brass.


mlcorson5 years ago
This is probably one of the most useful techniques I have learned. The use use of Apoxie is just brilliant! Thanks for sharing.
Xombie Doll5 years ago
what is the name of the book in the background?
Ouchimoo5 years ago
"Drawing the Marvel Way" reminds me of overly bustful females. Then you use as as a sample? lol! In seriousness though, isn't 8 heads above average height?
SharonBugs5 years ago
Thank you for your tutorial. I have now learnt what's an amarture, how to start, and what to do for my Indian Dancer figurine. You are so much more helpful and informative than my scultpture class instructor!!
pumpkinman5 years ago
amazing musculature. And the face is astounding, for how long have you been doing this?
Agreed
mg0930mg5 years ago
I would like to see a joker or batman one. I think you'd make it look awesome. :)
Kevvixx5 years ago
You should make a sculpting tutorial, because that one was great!
Setti Fine Art (author)  Kevvixx5 years ago
Thank you! I do have a sculpting tutorial in the works but it will take time to compile.... lots of steps lol!
SinAmos5 years ago
Good work.
Setti Fine Art (author)  SinAmos5 years ago
Thanks! :)
Tystarr5 years ago
So when you're done modeling do you clip the wires off the base to put the fugure in a kiln?
Setti Fine Art (author)  Tystarr5 years ago
No- I bake it on the base as shown in the pics. I should clarify that super sculpy you use your home oven. It is a polymer clay not a conventional water clay. Most people like to use it for maquette work because after baking it becomes hard and paintable so for a one off you don't need to make a mold and you have something permanent to display. You can't actually use a wire armature if you were to fire water clay as it would make it crack and explode but it is perfectly fine for baking super sculpy which is done at really low heat in your home oven.
kool-aid5 years ago
awesome where can you find resin?
Nice job
Setti Fine Art (author)  chocha055 years ago
Thank you :)
Setti Fine Art (author)  kool-aid5 years ago
Thanks!

I use a resin called SC 320 by smooth-on. You would have to look on their site for a distributor near you. They have silicones as well as other resins to choose from.
kenbob5 years ago
Excellent instructable, well written and very interesting. You are a great artist.
Setti Fine Art (author)  kenbob5 years ago
Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it! :D
haloed5 years ago
Nice Instructible, and nice "Female Figure". Her boobs are too big to be proportionate, but as a guy I don't mine at all. XD
Setti Fine Art (author)  haloed5 years ago
Thanks for the kind words - I didn't design that sculpture. She is a character by Jim Balent called "Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose": http://www.jimbalent.com

I prefer more modest boobs personally...lol! :D

Claudio
iceprince5 years ago
Thank you very much! Your instructional video process made it possible for me to make my first statue. But with this word by word instruction plus other inputs will make my succeeding works to be better and according to the way I want it. Thank you very much for sharing your talent and knowledge.
Setti Fine Art (author)  iceprince5 years ago
My pleasure -I'm glad you found it useful! :D Claudio